Naval Cemetery Landscape – Brooklyn, New York - Atlas Obscura

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Naval Cemetery Landscape

What was once a vast naval cemetery is now home to nesting birds and pollinating bees.  

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The Brooklyn Navy Yard has a long and storied history as a place where great ships such as the USS Monitor and the USS Maine were designed. Traces of its industrial past are evident, from the dry docks to the various factories and storehouses. But the area also housed a naval hospital that contained its own cemetery from 1831 to 1910. As many as 2,000 men were laid to rest there during this time period. 

The cemetery was shut down once it filled up, and in 1926, it was decommissioned by the U.S. Congress and 987 bodies were reinterred at Cypress Hill Cemetery, on the border between Brooklyn and Queens. The land remained fallow for the next 90 years, as the buildings nearby transitioned from the hospital to a naval receiving annex and other uses until 1989. 

During a survey in 1997, it was discovered that multiple human remains were still buried under the soil, with their identities impossible to determine. The decision was made to construct boardwalks that sat on the surface of the soil, to not disturb the bones. The landscape is populated with native flora and fauna. In 2016, the land opened back up as the Naval Cemetery Landscape, a place for birds and bees to nest and pollinate.

Know Before You Go

The entrance to the landscape is located on Williamsburg Street West, between Kent and Flushing Avenues. Dogs are not allowed inside and bikes must be parked at the gate. The landscape is open from 10 am to 7 pm Wednesday through Sunday. In the winter, it is open on weekends from 10 am to 5 pm.

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February 16, 2022

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